Going West by Mark Powers

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

GetPowers.com Two Year Anniversary

GetPowers LogoI started GetPowers.com in October 2006. Previously, I had a little blog on Yahoo! GeoCities which I started in order to share pictures and stories from my stay in China, but I saw that Yahoo! kept putting their ads onto my website, partially blocking out the page and generally being annoying. I also wanted my own website, but I knew nothing about web hosting.
It was a cold Friday evening at Renmin University in October 2006 that changed my life. I was at English Corner, chatting away with some of the Chinese students. I met another foreigner there, a guy from South Africa, who was also visiting China. I asked him what he did there, and he explained to me that he was a writer and was making an income from his website. I was intriged, I had always been interested in making money on the Internet, how did he do it?

He said he didn't sell anything, simply he put ads on his website, and when people clicked on them, he could make a little money. Of course, I knew Yahoo! could make money by putting their ads on the website I made that was hosted by them. But how could I make money doing that? Would I have to find advertisers?

The South African man explained that you simply set up an account with Google's Adsense program, you get the programming code, you cut and paste it onto your website, then the ads just come up on your site. Of course the agreement with Google prohibits you from clicking on the ads on your own website, but if your vistors do, you can make a little money, and I do mean little. But with time and traffic, it adds up.

I really wanted to give it a try. I liked using the Internet, I already had my own website, so I thought lets give it a try and see what happens. I needed my own website though. I decided at first to use Yahoo! Webhosting, with a small fee, they would take off their annoying pop-up ads.
Then I had to rack my brains for a good website name. I wanted to think of something that was related to me, but unique and easy to remember. After a couple of days of brainstorming, I stumbled on "GetPowers". Like, if you want to get in touch with Mark Powers, just go to GetPowers.com! I contacted my family to ask what they thought, I wanted to make sure it was not to corny of an idea. They said it sounded alright and was easy to remember. Additionally, the domain name was still available. Nowadays its harder and harder to find website names that are not already taken. Soon, GetPowers.com was mine!

I immediately went to work. The thought of trying to make some money inspired me to try to make my online journal look better and add interesting content. Things were working great for the first 3 months, I was very pleased. I was getting lots of visitors from the US and China, and actually making money, enough to pay off the cost of the domain name and webhosting at least.
But then a series of disasters befell my website.

At the beginning of the new year, an Earthquake near Taiwan knocked out the trans-Pacific cables that linked the Internet from Asia to North America. My website was inaccessable for weeks, and even when Internet traffic was rerouted and generally restored, it seemed my website was still very slow to upload to most of the visitors in China.

Additionally, a website forum that I spent alot of time working on that started to take off was being attacked by Spam robots. These "robots" would visit my website and automatically post garbage messages onto the forum to visit their bad websites and buy their junk. I was spending more time deleting junk messages than actually writing new posts. And with the lost visitors from the earthquake disruption, I nearly gave up. It was too much trouble for too little in return.

Later, I discovered the Great Chinese Firewall of Censorship was blocking out Yahoo! servers. If any website on Yahoo! servers got blocked for having material that was illegal in China, all the websites on that server got blocked. Of course, that could be thousands or websites. Even after the Internet was restored in general, my website would often load very slowly or not at all. When I contacted Yahoo! about it, they told me about their problems with working in China. I only wish I would have know about that earlier and used another webhosting company!

In 2007 I returned to the states. I still dreamed of doing something special on the Internet, but was unsure how to do it. I forgot to mention, just before coming to the states, I was finally able to find a trustworthy webhosting company in China. The cost was reasonable, and at least, the speed and reliabilty to have a website hosted in China was comforting. So, GetPowers.net was born. A website in Chinese for Chinese people, accessable in China.

I also decided to spend the extra money and start working with a superior webhosting company in the US as well. I picked Dreamhost.com, smaller but by far better than Yahoo! but maybe a little more difficult to use than Yahoo! webhosting for beginners.

I created several webpages under the GetPowers.com name that were of interest to me. Such as alternative energy investing, determining probabilities, and funny pages.

I also picked up some ideas about different website topics that I could make like teaching English and politics. I created findenglishteacher.com and presidentseek.com. These websites are not blogs, but more like specialty topic websites. Recently, I even started a new website about foreigners in China called littlechinaworld.com.

I ended up making more money by building websites for other people or creating videos to put on websites than I ever made with web advertising. But I have not given up and I still have a few ideas up my sleave.


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